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Law exists to ensure free system of mass media- ensures dialogue, debate & a variety of different opinions can circulate.
Limit corporate & governmental influence, protect individuals(children).
Also insures a fully functioning system of mass media- preventing some of the issues that hampered the early expansion of radio.

Reasons for Medial Regulation/ Media Law


6 Areas where Media Law comes into play?

1. Controversies of a free system of mass Comm- 1st Amendment.
2.Copyright (intellectual property)
3. Restrictions on obscenity & pornography.
4.Regulation of TV & Radio.
5. Regulation of the Internet.
6. Regulation of advertising.


Freedom of the press/ Freedom of Speech
Prior restraint(say you can't talk about something) out lawed by the first amendment.

First Amendment


stating that congress shall make no law abridging in the freedom of speech or of the press

First Amendment (book definition)


An attempt by the government to censor the press by preventing it from publishing or broadcasting material. before they've had a chance to say it.

Prior Restraint ( book definition)


Not allowed to shout "FIRE" in a crowded theater.

Prior Restraint


Most important exemptions to the first amendment?

1971 Pentagon Papers: law suit finds prior restraint permissible and the government carries a heavy burden.
Justification is usually involved as well.


This was another exemption -coverage of courts & trial conflicts of two constitutional rights. (right to a fair trial)
need to ensure impartial jury & impartially in the court itself.
Don't want to press coverage to convict or exonerate defendants before the trail starts.

Conflicts between the 1st & 6th amendments


Another exemption to the first amendment.
The act of harming the reputation of another by publishing false information.



What are the four types of defamation?

1. Libel
3.Libel per quod
4.Libel per se


Published defamation- broadcast or written



Spoken defamation



Statements that always libel/ libelous ( written material)

Libel per quod


Statements that are libelous only within a specific context. saying a person is a thief.

Libel per say


Has no first amendment protection.



gave a definition of obscenity as: something is obscene if it corrupts the minds of the most susceptible people (children, women, minorities, mental illness, or a handicap person)

Hicklin Rule (1830-1940)


it introduces the contemporary standards and looks at the material as a whole as a opposed to focusing on small incidents of sex/ violence. now it is based on the average person, not the susceptible one.

Roth Vs. United States (1957)


introduces the key term/ concept of community standards/ it also ties obscenity to the specific but understated forms of sexual conduct prohibited by state laws.

Miller Vs. California (1973)


related to defamation in that it addresses how far the media can intrude into someone's life to get a story. (ex, medical records) Privacy protects the truth

Right to Privacy


What are 4 privacy issues?

1. eves dropping/ surveillance
2.unauthorizes release of medical or bank records
3.publicizes ppl in a false light/ Photoshop.
4.procreation of a person name for a commercial or ad.


Broadcasting has become less regulated since the 1980's- some laws have been completely abandoned.
Cable, Netflix, & Satellite TV are not under FCC regulation.

Deregulation of Broadcast television 80's & 90's


Broadcasting TV & Radio are regulated by law due to its unique characteristics- which are?

1. the airwaves are owned by the public/ citizens of the U.S.
2. it is a scant, natural source (ex. Frequencies)
3. It is very powerful because it can be used to change public opinion/ a guest in house.


a congressional establishing act the federal radio commission, a regulatory body that would issue broadcasting licenses and organize operating times and frequencies.

Radio act of 1927


A regulatory agency, composed of 5 individuals appointed by the president, whose responsibilities include broadcast and wire regulation.

Federal Communication of Commission -FCC


Problem of the internet is its international nature- most laws are national.
Some laws don't apply to the internet and can be used for successful prosecution, copyright, libel, fraud, obscenity(child pornography)

Regulations of the internet


Status of Speech- now they have the right to FREE Speech.
Can't lie
Limits to where ads can be placed & shown ex. No cigarettes

Regulations of Advertising


protects an author against unfair appropriation of his or her work.



1909- formalization of U.S. law initially intended to protect the author and their work, NOW protects media companies interests



What happens to copyright after a specific period?

it expires and cannot be renewed, the work moves into public domain. Work can be used with out charge to help inspire others.


means that copies of a protected work can be made for such legitimate activities such as teaching, research, news reporting, and criticism without penalty.

Fair Use